2018’s Most Complained About Ads

We recently released our 2018 Annual Report, and included in this were summaries of our five most complained about advertisements.

Number Five:

Fluoride Free New Zealand, Print – 6 complaints: Not Upheld

Complainants said the advertisement was misleading and played on fear. The complaints were upheld, in part. The Advertiser appealed the Decision. The Appeal Board said the advertisement was not misleading because of the context, an invitation to a public lecture explaining recent research on the risks of fluoride. The Appeal Board said the advertisement did not reach the threshold to unjustifiably play on fear and  therefore was not socially irresponsible. The Appeal Board ruled the Appeal was allowed. The complaints were not upheld.

Number Four:

Antares Ltd., Television – 8 complaints: Settled (advertisement changed)

The television advertisement for Burger King showed a group of people barbecuing inside their van. The disclaimer says “Never BBQ in a vehicle, it is stupid and impairs your ability to be alive”. Complainants’ were concerned the advertisement depicted unsafe behaviour. The Chair acknowledged the Advertiser had made changes to the television advertisement and added a clearer safety message. The complaints were settled.

Number Three:

Hanes Australia Pty Ltd, Television – 8 complaints: Not Upheld

The advertisement for Berlei Bras showed the impact of uncomfortable bras. The advertisement ends with women enjoying wearing the Berlei bra. Complainants said the advertisement was offensive, played at a time that was inappropriate, and was sexually suggestive. The Advertiser and Media said the advertisement depicted breasts in an unglamorous and truthful way to highlight the discomfort of ill-fitting bras. The Board agreed the advertisement was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to most people. There was nothing in the advertisement which degraded or exploited women or objectified women in the context of the advertisement. The complaints were not upheld.

Number Two:

Breast Cancer Foundation, Television – 13 complaints: Settled (advertisement changed)

The Breast Cancer Foundation advertisement has a mother and daughter talking about breast cancer. The ad said “Breast cancer is contagious. It touches the whole family…” The Complainants’ concerns were
about the word ‘contagious’ which was misleading and played on fear. The Advertiser said the advertisement was to encourage women to have free mammograms, by talking about the wider effects of cancer. Following complaints, the advertisements were amended, removing “contagious”. The complaints were settled.

Number One:

WAVES NZ, Billboard – 146 complaints: Upheld (advertisement removed) 

The advertisement showed a man holding a baby with the words: “If you knew the ingredients in a vaccine, would you RISK it?” and a website address: www.wavesnz.org.nz. Complainants were concerned the advertisement implied vaccines are not safe. The Advertiser said the advertisement promoted informed consent and encouraged research of vaccine ingredients. The complaints were upheld. The Advertiser appealed the Decision. The Appeal Board said the message received by the consumer was limited and therefore misleading. It said a billboard has an unlimited audience and while consumers have a right to be informed, the advertisement engendered fear through text and imagery. The complaints were upheld and the Appeal dismissed.

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